Previewing Texas

Texas is a young team in search of its first significant win of the season. Sound familiar? The Tar Heels travel to Austin to face the Longhorns on Wednesday. Tip-off at the Erwin Center is set for 9 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

North Carolina (8-2) vs. Texas (6-4)
Austin, Texas -- Erwin Center
Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET
ESPN2 (John Saunders, Jimmy Dykes )


"I keep telling them we're going to be good. There's a long way to go in this season. They've learned a lot. I think the thing they understand now more than anything is how difficult it is to win at a very high level. It's been a tough lesson to learn but we've got to learn and we are learning it." – Texas head coach Rick Barnes


Season to Date: Texas enters Wednesday's contest with a 6-4 record. The Longhorns were stunned by Division II Chaminade (86-73) in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 19 before losing to Southern Cal the next day in overtime, 59-53. After three wins consecutive wins against Mississippi State, Sam Houston State and UT Arlington, Rick Barnes's squad was blown out by No. 15 Georgetown on Dec. 4 and then allowed UCLA to rally for a 65-63 victory at Reliant Stadium in Houston four days later.

Playing the Waiting Game: Starting point guard Myck Kabongo has missed the first 10 games of the season while waiting for the NCAA to rule on potential agent contact and if the sophomore was truthful with investigators about a workout payment last spring. Barnes referred to the months-long ordeal as "frustrating" and "disappointing" last week. Kabongo averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists while starting every game as a freshman in 2011-12.

Headless Offense: Without Kabongo directing the offense, Texas has struggled to score points. The Longhorns rank 268th nationally in field goal percentage (40.8) and 249th in 3-point field goal percentage (29.6). An inability to efficiently share the ball (11.7 assists per game) combined with a tendency to turn the ball over (17.8 turnovers per game) equals one of the nation's worst assist-turnover ratios – 0.66 (309th). Sophomore wing Sheldon McClellan has been the Longhorns' primary scoring option, averaging 15.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Suffocating Defense: Texas has managed to win six games despite its offensive woes due to a stingy defense. The Longhorns rank second nationally in field goal percentage defense (33.2), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.0) and 10th in blocked shots (6.9). Forwards Cameron Ridley (24 blocks) and Jonathan Holmes (10 blocks, 17 steals) have proven to be defensive loads in the post.

Youth is Served: The Longhorns' roster includes just two scholarship upperclassmen – seniors Dean Melchionni and Andrew Dick – and both arrived in Austin as walk-ons. Five sophomores and seven freshmen fill out the remainder of the official roster.

Felix Emerging: Freshman point guard Javan Felix was thrust into the starting lineup due to Kabongo's NCAA issues and struggled early, averaging 6.8 points and 29.0 percent shooting through his first eight games. Since then, however, Felix is averaging 16.5 points on 38.2 percent shooting. He currently ranks second in the Big 12 in assists (5.8) and has logged 350 of a possible 405 minutes this season, including 44 against USC in Maui.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Longhorns, 82-63, on Dec. 21, 2011 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Harrison Barnes paced UNC with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Reggie Bullock added 12 points and six rebounds. North Carolina held Texas to 34.8 percent shooting and outrebounded its opponent by 15.

Series History: Texas leads the all-time series with North Carolina, 4-3. The Longhorns have won four of the last five games.

Projected Starters:
3 Javan Felix (5-10, 190, Fr.) - 8.7 ppg, 5.8 apg
14 Julien Lewis (6-3, 190, So.) - 11.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
1 Sheldon McClellan (6-4, 200, So.) - 15.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg
10 Jonathan Holmes (6-7, 239, So.) - 6.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg
55 Cameron Ridley (6-9, 270, Fr.) - 6.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg

Top Reserves:
33 Ioannis Papapetrou (6-8, 225, Fr.) - 6.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
2 Demarcus Holland (6-2, 170, Fr.) - 3.9 ppg, 1.0 apg
21 Connor Lammert (6-9, 232, Fr.) - 3.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
44 Prince Ibeh (6-10, 245, Fr.) - 1.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg

UT Info
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(Photos by USA Today Sports)

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